The growing divide between north and south

Researchers analysing data on average incomes, house prices, life expectancy and educational attainment show that the gap between north and south has grown wider in the recession – and the dividing line is intriguing.

“Britain is a country pulling itself apart” – so says Danny Dorling, professor of Human Geography at Sheffield University and author of a forthcoming book on the north-south divide titled ‘The Economic Geography of the UK’.

He told yesterday’s Sunday Times:

“The north-south divide is no longer a vague idea… We have enough information on life chances, health and wealth to say where the line lies and what is happening to it.

Researchers analysing data on average incomes, house prices, life expectancy and educational attainment show that the gap has grown wider in the recession – and the dividing line is intriguing.

Rather than a neat division across the middle of the country, the ST’s map of inequality tilts, angled on a 2 o’clock-8 o’clock axis, between Gloucester in the south and Grimsby in the north. And as a rule of thumb, anywhere more than two hours from London is likely to be in the ‘north’, (excluding Devon and Cornwall).

Hopes that wealth disparities might be evening-out during the recession are dashed. The ST quotes Shaun French, a researcher at Nottingham University:

“The unprecedented amounts of money spent shoring up UK banks, estimated at £1.3 trillion, has favoured more affluent regions, namely London and the southeast [where the financial services sector is stronger], over disadvantaged regions.”

This depressing picture does not take into account the further impact of public spending cuts or the scrapping of the nine English regional development agencies (RDAs), which are set to be replaced by up to 40 new Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs).

As ‘Mini-Me’ versions of RDAs, there is little prospect LEPs will have the firepower to make an equivalent impact in tackling this structural imbalance in the UK economy. The scale of the divide is enormous: The three northernmost regions of England: the north west, north east and Yorkshire and Humber have a combined output gap with the UK average of £30 billion.

In the rush to hit the government’s timeframe of early September, frantic horse-trading is currently taking place to finalise the shape of the new LEPs. Of course summer is about the worst possible time of year to work-up detailed proposals, so the risk is that what emerges is a patchwork quilt where local rivalries and antagonisms rather than hard empirical reasoning rule the day.

And so the divide grows.

Tinkering with structures at a time when our national economic woes may get worse is a recipe for disaster; as Professor Dorling says:

“The recession is exacerbating those [existing] differences and I suspect the dividing line will also move southwards as the government’s cuts take effect.”

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30 Responses to “The growing divide between north and south”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  2. earwicga

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  3. Northern TUC

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  4. Rebecca Evans

    RT @earwicga: RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  5. Trakgalvis

    The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB via @leftfootfwd

  6. The True Imagination

    RT @trakgalvis: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB via @leftfootfwd

  7. Roxanne Ellis

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB <– Another reason for my northern"chauvinism" :p

  8. oliver skelton

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  9. Philip Cane

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  10. Gina Byrne

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  11. LockPickerNet

    The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB via @leftfootfwd

  12. Stuart Vallantine

    RT @Roxsie: RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB <– Another reason for my northern"chauvinism" :p

  13. mike

    stop the Vichy government
    join the resistance

  14. daniel Mayhew

    Like the way the east is included in the ‘good’ south when it should be in the the ‘bad’ north

  15. Helena Baptista

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  16. LockPickerNet

    The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB via @leftfootfwd

  17. md

    I haven’t read Professor Dorling’s full report but with about half of the top 10 most deprived local authorities in England and 8 out of the 10 local authorities with the current highest claimant to vacancy count, London is clearly a more complicated picture than this suggests. As is the South East, if you look closely. GDP or other measures of output do not paint an accurate picturer of deprivation and inequality, where London and other parts of the South East suffer as bad as elsewhere.

  18. GRS-ONE

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB

  19. Chris

    when will we start expelling Field,Hoey,Milburn and co
    I remember just reading Militant was an expellable offence

    Join the resistance

  20. Keir Hardie

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south http://bit.ly/drELUB

  21. DrKMJ

    The growing divide between north and south: http://bit.ly/drELUB via @leftfootfwd

  22. Ravinder

    This seems too simple. After all, the biggest inequality is in London, where the millionaire traders live cheek by jowl with some of the poorest in Tower Hamlets.

    Note that the money spent “shoring up UK banks” was spent on *Northern* Rock, Royal Bank of *Scotland* and *Halifax*-Bank of *Scotland*.

  23. Haneef Khan

    "Britain is a country pulling itself apart. The north – south divide is no longer a vague idea." – Danny Dorling http://bit.ly/bt2vlK

  24. Billy Blofeld

    “The growing divide between north and south”: A.K.A. 13 years of a Labour government.

    ….. when will the comrades wake up and realise Labour policies always make the poorest worse off.

  25. Anon E Mouse

    billy – Even the graphic is misleading as if to show Labour hold the North of the country which they clearly don’t.

    If spokespeople for the left delude themselves what hope of convincing others to vote for them?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/2432632/UK-General-Election-2010-political-map.html

  26. Chris

    @Billy

    Interesting concept, care to explain how that works?

    @Mouse

    Your calling other people deluded – again that legendary LibDem brass neck is much in evidence.

    If you click the change view button on your helpfully provided map you’d see that Labour is very strong in the North. And if you take a look at the opinion polls your’ll see Labour is winning the North. But this is beside the point the graphic using artistic license to demonstrate a point, surely you understood that; although I doubt Billy did.

  27. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – I like you dude!!!

    Plus being called a Lib Dem is weird…

  28. Michael

    RT @leftfootfwd: The growing divide between north and south http://bit.ly/bt2vlK

  29. Sword of Damocles? Scale of cuts to north is more like Grim Reaper’s scythe | Left Foot Forward

    […] research is yet further evidence that Britain remains a fundamentally divided country with an unbalanced economy favouring the needs […]

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